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  • Geebo 10:59 am on December 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Select Cuban citizens to get home internet 

    Select Cuban citizens to get home internet

    When we’re at home we just expect the internet to work. We expect to get on our tablets or laptops or phones and check our various daily messages with no delay. We use it to stream our entertainment and play video games. When the internet stops working we go into panic mode like the Apocalypse just happened. We restart the modem, the router and every connected device. When that doesn’t work we dread having to call customer service for fear of them telling us they’ll send out a technician in a few days which we consider the worst case scenario. All because we can’t post pictures of our lunch on social media. Now imagine living in Cuba where you can only get your internet at certain public hotspots for a substantial fee. Could you handle it? Probably not.

    This is how the people of Cuba have had to access internet for many years now. Now, with the decades long US embargo finally lifted, 2000 select citizens will be receiving home internet in downtown Havana. Due to the embargo, Cuba claims that they were unable to provide internet infrastructure until recently.

    This leads to two questions. First off, just because people will be receiving home internet will the government be heavily monitoring or censoring the Cuban net? Just because the embargo has been lifted and Fidel Castro is gone doesn’t mean that Cuba has become a haven of democracy. The second question is, will more internet access to Cubans start leading to a democratic Cuba? With being so close to the US and the fact that even the greatest national firewalls can be bypassed will this lead to Cubans using their new internet to organize democratic movements? That remains to be seen but it is a definite possibility.

    Now keep that in mind the next time you want to see what the latest Kardashian has posted on Instagram.

     
  • Geebo 1:24 pm on December 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , safety check   

    Fake news story triggers Facebook’s safety check 

    Fake news story triggers Facebook's safety check

    While the internet has dubbed 2016 the year that killed celebrities, it’s also been the year of fake news and in many ways Facebook has taken a brunt of the blame for the spreading of said untrue news.

    Facebook has grabbed one last possible fake news headline of 2016 as a fake news story has triggered their safety check. On the 27th the safety check was triggered in Thailand after a year old story about an explosion in Bangkok started trending. Facebook has denied the gaffe stating the safety check was triggered after someone threw fireworks at a government building.

    This is what happens when we rely on one place for all of our news and the ‘news’ is spread by anybody that can post anything and call it news. Maybe if we stepped out of Facebook every once in a while the fake news problem wouldn’t be a problem at all. The internet is a large and wonderful place and is full of some great news sources that report actual news. Even if a prison is comfortable and welcoming place like Facebook, it’s still a prison.

     
  • Geebo 10:58 am on December 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    The Christmas of broken Hatchimals 

    The Christmas of broken Hatchimals

    Prior to the holidays, we talked about the must have toys of the season. One of those toys was called ‘Hatchimals’. They’re these odd-looking creatures that hatch from their own plastic egg to the joy of children everywhere, except for a number of people whose plastic eggs didn’t hatch on Christmas.

    Back in the day, circa pre-internet days, it was almost customary for a child’s toy to break on Christmas day. Sometimes the toy was already broken but in most cases the toy was usually broken by the kids themselves. Back then if a toy was broken the only recourse you had was to try to take it back to the store and either get an exchange, if they even had any in stock, or get a full refund and try to get another one once the stores have been restocked.

    Now in modern times, parents have a new option to deal with broken toys on Christmas, and that’s to take to social media to complain. In this era of instant gratification, parents took to Twitter hammering the toy manufacturer with complaints and tech support requests, on Christmas Day, the day when they’re not working but expecting the toy company to be fully staffed.

    While no one wants to see their kid disappointed on Christmas morning, making these demands on Christmas morning sets a bad example on how to handle a bad situation calmly and instills a sense of entitlement into some children. Just let them know that it’s not their fault but it may take some time to get their toy fixed. That’s not to say that they won’t be bored with the toy within days after they get it.

    Here’s hoping you had fully functional toys on Christmas.

     
  • Geebo 1:34 pm on December 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Unload the gift cards you didn’t want 

    Unload the gift cards you didn't want

    Are you a vegan who got a gift card to the hunting store? Are you an XBox player who received a PlayStation Store gift card? Are you anybody who got a gift card from Applebee’s? Well fear not, because a solution is at hand.

    With the gift giving holidays behind us many of us may have received a gift card we have no use for whether it be personal taste or the lack of a local available store. This article from the Associated Press details what you can do with those unwanted gift cards. While it has many good ideas there is at least one I would recommend avoiding, selling your gift cards.

    While the article states that there are legitimate outlets for selling your gift card it just reminds me too much of the many gift card scams that appear online. Basically the scam works is that the seller claims to be selling a gift card for some ridiculous price like half off but when you get the gift card it’s completely worthless. I’m not saying the outlets listed do that but caveat emptor.

    An idea that was not mentioned in the article was you could try to set up an unwanted exchange at your place of work. Surely you can’t be the only one with an unwanted gift card. Maybe someone at work would be willing to trade you for something you could use.

    Of course the best idea, which is mentioned in the article, is to donate the card to charity. There really is no greater gift than helping out someone in need and that gift card could do just that.

     
  • Geebo 11:26 am on December 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flying, , , ,   

    Someone thought it was funny to make a Galaxy Note 7 prank on a plane 

    Someone thought it was funny to make a Galaxy Note 7 prank on a plane

    If you’ve flown anywhere within the last few months you probably heard an announcement about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smart phone. The reason is that the Note 7 has had a problem with some of the batteries exploding, therefore the device has not only been recalled by Samsung but it’s also been banned from being allowed on commercial flights. Also, if you’ve ever flown ever, you should know that when it comes to security, no one has a sense of humor. Not the TSA and not the plane’s staff.

    However, that did not stop someone from naming their device ‘Galaxy Note 7’ while using the in-flight wi-fi on a recent flight from San Francisco to Boston. Only after the warning of diverting the flight at 3am to a closed terminal was the device found not to be a Galaxy Note 7.

    You’ll also have to remember that this was also done during the holiday traveling season. People are already on their last nerve when it comes to flying. especially with connections and delayed flights and the likes. A stunt like this if taken to its illogical conclusion it could have had the potential to cause at least a massive regional snafu.

    So if you’re in an airport and you’re telling yourself “this will be funny”, no, no it won’t. Don’t be that guy.

     
  • Geebo 10:50 am on December 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Super Mario Runner   

    Super Mario Scammers 

    Super Mario Scammers

    The character of the little Italian plumber Mario has been a mainstay of video games for over 30 years ever since his introduction as ‘Jumpman’ in the arcade classic Donkey Kong. So it should come as no surprise that when Nintendo released a Mario game for Apple devices recently, that it broke download records for iOS devices. It should also come as no surprise that scammers were immediately trying to take advantage of the game’s popularity.

    The game, called Super Mario Runner, comes in two versions. There is a free stripped-down version and a deluxe version that unlocks the full game for $9.99. Several places online are offering to unlock the game for free but as the saying goes there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Most of these offers are nothing more than phishing attacks that ask you for your personal information with the promise of unlocking the game for free on your iPhone or iPad. Of course that never happens and now you’ve just provided and identity thief with all the information they could ever need.

    Many of us have fond memories of Mario somewhere in our childhoods. Leave it to the lowly scammers to take something so cherished and innocent and corrupt it. While not the lowest of the low, these scammers are at least in the top ten of the low, or bottom ten depending on your perspective.

     
  • Geebo 11:00 am on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Why don’t corporations just make a donation instead of making you buy something? 

    Why don't corporations just make a donation instead of making you buy something?

    It happens all year round, but you see it a lot come Christmas. A number of companies will claim to make a donation to charity if you buy their product. I’m sure you’ve heard the pitches before. “Buy our phone and will donate part pf the proceeds to such and such charity.” I always wondered why don’t the companies just make a large donation to the charity and say “Hey, we’ve donated a big chunk of change to ‘Charity X’. Why not buy our product since we’re such good guys?” Personally, I would rather buy from a company like that then one that makes you jump through hoops for charities to get the money.

    Of course the answer is marketing. The companies are more worried about profit than charity, but if they appear charitable it could make them more appealing to certain sections of the population. According to an article from TIME Magazine, the appeal to our generosity could make some of us buy a product that we wouldn’t necessarily even be in the market for. The same article from TIME also has tips on how to avoid less than reputable charity practices from certain companies if you are in the market for this type of purchase.

    Personally, I’m of the mindset where if you’re going to give to charity, just give to charity and do so without buying something you may not want or need as it looks like you’re justifying your own consumerism by claiming philanthropy.

     
  • Geebo 10:58 am on December 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Keeping your kids safe on their new devices 

    Keeping your kids safe on their new devices

    With Christmas fast approaching many children will be receiving new devices this year, whether they’re tablets or smart phones. With these new toys come new responsibilities, not only for the children but for parents as well. In the age we live in you can’t just hand your children one of these devices and send them on their merry way and expect no problems. Unfortunately, in our society not only are there the predators that we’re all concerned about but there are financial predators as well who want to take advantage of your kids disguised as apps and data caps.

    Many games for children on these devices have what they call ‘in app purchases’ which means that the players of the game can buy in-game items with real world money. Not only that, but many of these games use data from your cellular providers data plan and can either run up quite the data bill or burn through your allotted data rather quickly.

    To help you and your children avoid these pitfalls we’ve found two good resources on how to protect your children and your wallet while using these new devices. iOS devices, which are the ones made by Apple, are relatively simple to enable safety and financial restrictions. Android devices on the other hand, the ones made by companies like Samsung and various other manufacturers, are a little more difficult to restrict, but can be done.

    Just look at setting up your child’s new device as the modern equivalent of having to assemble the toys that our parents did on Christmas Eve for years, except now not only are you keeping your children engaged but you’re keeping them safe as well.

     
  • Geebo 12:05 pm on December 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , robbery   

    Everything old is new again: Facebook Marketplace used for robberies 

    Everything old is new again: Facebook Marketplace used for robberies

    Back in October, we posted on this blog about how Facebook’s new Marketplace feature was not only rife for abuse, but that the abuses were already taking place. These were some of the same abuses that have plagued craigslist for years.

    Now, industry watchdog The AIM Group, is reporting that Facebook Marketplace is now suffering from an even bigger problem that is also reminiscent of craigslist, robbery. At least two armed robberies have occurred and in one incident a victim was stabbed while being robbed. If history is any indicator, it won’t be too long before the media is calling someone the ‘Facebook Marketplace Killer’. By AIM Group’s own estimate there have been 105 murders related to craigslist as of October, 2016. With as many users as Facebook has, they could potentially dwarf that unfortunate number.

    The problem with Facebook Marketplace is the same that craigslist has always had and that’s the lack of moderation. Facebook is making the same mistake as craigslist by relying on the community to police the ads rather than having in-house moderation. While human curation isn’t the be all and end all to keeping its users safe it can go so much farther than relying on an untrained community. Unfortunately, Facebook has a history of mishandling any kind of human editing staff. With its brand and userbase, Facebook has the potential to be even a bigger criminal hive than craigslist ever was.

     
  • Geebo 12:01 pm on December 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , unlocked phones   

    Should you buy an unlocked phone? 

    Should you buy an unlocked phone?

    Up until a few years ago it was actually illegal to unlock a cell phone in the US. Back then unlocking a phone meant to make it so that the phone could be used on multiple carriers. Now you can buy an unlocked phone straight from the carrier, but should you? Well, that depends on your lifestyle.

    One of the pros of an unlocked phone is that you can switch carriers almost at will depending on what kind of deals the carriers are offering, and since you own your own phone you don’t have to worry about contracts. They’re also great of you travel overseas because you can buy local coverage in almost whatever country you may be visiting. A big con of owning an unlocked phone is that they can be incredibly expensive. A top of the line phone, like an iPhone, or Samsung Galaxy, can run you close to $1,000 or more depending on what features you want. Unfortunately, not a lot of people have a cool grand just lying around to buy a high-end phone.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t more affordable alternatives. A number of carriers have plans where there is no contract and the plans are all prepaid. The phones are more or less unlocked and are much less expensive than the top of the line phones and a lot of the phones work just as well. You may also be able to find a refurbished top of the line phone that’s being sold at a discount by one of these carriers.

    So if you can afford an unlocked phone, definitely get one, but most people can get buy with just their carrier’s subsidized phone.

     
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